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1995 - PMQT Written Answers 6th November 1995

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 6th November 1995.


PRIME MINISTER:

Remploy Consortium

Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Prime Minister what representations he has had from the trade union side secretary of the Remploy Consortium; what reply he is sending; what action he is taking; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: I have received one such representation, which will be responded to in due course by my hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Education and Employment.


Deregulation

Mr. Steen: To ask the Prime Minister (1) pursuant to his oral answer of 2 May, Official Report, columns 167-68, what progress is being made towards repealing those regulations identified as unnecessary burdens to business;

(2) if a compliance cost assessment has been completed on each regulation to be repealed; and what is the estimated saving to (a) small businesses and (b) the public funds from the repeal of each regulation.

The Prime Minister: We have identified over 1,000 regulations for repeal or amendment and are on target to have dealt with over half of those by the end of the year. The requirement to carry out a compliance cost assessment applies to regulations imposing additional burdens on business while the programme of repeals and amendments is concerned with reducing the burden. However, to take an example, simplification of the food temperature control regulations will help small businesses and generate savings of about £40 million a year for the industry as a whole without removing any necessary public health protection.


Overseas Aid Budget

Ms Lestor: To ask the Prime Minister (1) how many letters about the size of the overseas aid budget he has received from hon. Members since 1 September; and what was the comparable figure for the same period in the previous year;

(2) how many letters about the size of the overseas aid budget he has received from non-governmental organisations since 1 September; and what was the comparable figure for the same period in the previous year;

(3) how many letters about the size of the overseas aid budget he has received from members of the public since 1 September; and what was the comparable figure for the same period in the previous year.

The Prime Minister: I have received a substantial number of representations on this matter over the past 12 months.


President Chirac

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library (a) a copy of the memorandum on defence and security co-operation agreed with President Chirac of France on 30 October and (b) the text of the press conference he jointly hosted with President Chirac on 30 October.

The Prime Minister: I have already done so.


Quebec (Ex-premier's Remarks)

Mr. Mates: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make it clear to the ex-premier of Quebec Her Majesty's displeasure at his remarks about ethnic minority groups and the recent referendum.

The Prime Minister: The outcome of the referendum is a matter for Canadians in Canada. The Canadian Prime Minister has called for reconciliation. We wish the Canadian people well in the task of working together to this end.


Official Inquiries

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list all the official inquiries he and his department have undertaken over the last five years indicating the dates they were initiated and the date when the findings were released to the public.

The Prime Minister: I have set up no further inquiries since my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster answered a similar question from my hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Mr. Forman) on 25 May, Official Report, columns 717-20.


Marriage

Mr. Patten: To ask the Prime Minister (1) what steps Her Majesty's Government have taken to help married families since April 1992;

(2) what steps Her Majesty's Government have taken to strengthen the institution of marriage since April 1992.

The Prime Minister: The Government are fully committed to supporting the institution of marriage. Marriage is the bedrock of family life. Stable families are good for our children. They are a source of love and discipline, and of support for weaker members. However, we recognise that marriage is also a personal matter. We have taken several steps to support marriage, while at the same time respecting the privacy of personal relationships and choice.

This Government believe that married couples should receive recognition in the tax system. Married couples therefore receive tax treatment on both income and capital. They pay nearly £260 per year less in tax than most single people on the same income, at a total cost of £2.7 billion in 1995, and are treated more favourably for capital gains and inheritance tax. Inheritance tax reliefs for married couples are alone worth around £950 million in 1995-96. We also believe that people should have access to help to overcome problems in their marriages. The Government have therefore given £8.5 million to marriage guidance and research organisations since April 1992.

To take this further, an interdepartmental group on marriage was set up in April this year to identify how Government can develop additional services to help couples who are considering marriage or whose marriages are in difficulty.

Housing is a crucial issue for married families. Our White Paper "Our Future Homes" sets out the aim of ensuring that a decent home is in reach of every family. We want to make sure that the allocation of social housing includes the need to support married couples who take a responsible approach to family life as an important objective. We want to take away as many barriers to marriage as possible. For this reason, the Government supported a private Member's Bill in 1994 which widened the choice of venues for couples wishing to marry by civil ceremony.

Government Ministers meet representatives from the Churches and other organisations supporting marriage on an on going basis to discuss the scope for further initiatives.